At precisely 10:22 a.m. on August 21, darkness fell over the tiny town of John Day, Oregon. As onlookers gazed skyward, gawking at the historic total eclipse, Brian Guido bustled around and photographed them.
Two days before totality, Guido, a photographer from Los Angeles, drove with his fiancé 870 miles north, bypassing other Oregon cities like Prineville and Madras, reported to be swarming with crowds, and instead headed for John Day, population 1,600. The couple ended up at a former cow pasture that had been transformed into an eclipse campsite for the weekend. Around 600 or so people of all ages from Washington to Nevada pitched tents or brought RVs to the 40-acre site, moving a few cow pies out of the way when necessary.
As the big event drew near on Monday, everyone shuffled to the top of a nearby hill, the rolling Blue Mountains visible in the distance. Guido photographed the crowd in the hour leading up totality—a family with matching homemade t-shirts, a couple with welders’ helmets, a dog sporting eclipse glasses—shooting in black and white, an effect that makes the bright images feel both futuristic and a little bit nostalgic. “I kept seeing these vintage photos of eclipses beforehand,” he says. “I imagined by parents or grandparents experiencing totality. It feels timeless because the technology of looking at an eclipse hasn’t really changed much.”
When totality did finally arrive, Guido put the camera down to enjoy some of the two minutes of complete darkness. Standing in the middle of a pasture with a couple hundred strangers shouting at the sky, the moment “became celebratory,” he says. “There was no stress. Everyone was just there experiencing this thing together. It felt pretty special.”